.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Lesley Castle by Jane Austen

Lesley Castle by Jane Austen. London: Hesperus Classics, 2005. ISBN: 1-84391-115-9

Since I've been covering Jane Austin wannabes, imitators, or exploiters (see my entries for Pamela Aiden, Linda Berdoll and Carrie Bebris), I guess I need to cover the inimitable herself when the opportunity arises. This slim volume—110 pages—contains three short youthful works by Ms. Austen, written during her teenage years, according to the foreword by Zoë Heller.

As such, they are of interest to the die hard Austen fan, but are admittedly not up to the level of her more mature novels with which we are all familiar. The three efforts contained here show flashes of brilliance, but not surprisingly, are ultimately disappointing.

In “Lesley Castle,” which Heller calls “a rambunctious parody of the epistolary novel,” by which she means that the narration is contained entirely in letters, there is much to admire, but ultimately no plot, no real story. We read about some interesting characters, but there is no development, and certainly no denouement. The story just arbitrarily comes to an end for no particular or obvious reason.

"The History of England" is Austen's attempt to humorously summarize events “From the Reign of Henry IV to the Death of Charles I,” replete with amateurish drawings of each royal personage presumably from the pen of the author herself, although I couldn't find anything in the book to confirm or deny it.

Finally comes “Catherine, or the Bower,” which comprises almost half the length of the book, from page 57 through page 110. This is the best of the three, but it too just kind of trails off, without coming to any kind of satisfactory ending. It reads like the beginning of a novel, never completed or fully realized.

This little collection can only be recommended to those whose appetite for Jane Austin is so insatiable that any available crumb must be seized upon and savored. Or, I suppose, for those like myself, who feel a duty to explore these newly published tidbits, regardless of their literary merit.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home